Proper fentanyl administration 'safe', 'effective' - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Proper fentanyl administration 'safe', 'effective'

(Source: KCBD) (Source: KCBD)

After a major law enforcement operation revealed a local man was manufacturing his own pain medication, the drug fentanyl has been pushed to the news forefront. 

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller many degrees of magnitude more potent than morphine, was found to be the main focus of last week's raid. And while the powerful substance is currently under serious scrutiny, physicians stress that with fentanyl and many other prescription drugs, the danger lies in the drug getting in the wrong hands.

Dr. Miles Day is in the pain management field at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and at Grace Clinic. He says it is important to remember that although some people abuse the drug, fentanyl is approved by the FDA and remains one of the most common ways to treat chronic pain, like pain associated with cancer diagnoses. He maintains that when administered by a properly trained physician, the drug is safe and effective.

It is important to note, however, that not any physician can offer fentanyl for pain and that administration of the drug is monitored. Day says in order to prescribe fentanyl orally, nasally, sublingually or buccally, a physician must complete a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). These REMS must be renewed each year.

The cause for concern is fentanyl being diverted from its safe, supervised medical applications and being channeled into the black market where the drug is commonly combined with heroin. Heroin that has been cut with fentanyl is practically indistinguishable from unadulterated heroin; when users unknowingly obtain a heroin-fentanyl combination, the effect can be fatal, as the unexpected potency of the fentanyl often causes users to overdose.

But physicians stand by fentanyl as an important drug for managing chronic pain, a drug that has brought relief to many who use it as intended.

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